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Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2000/ 3 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Creator gets a hard time
on the hustings -- THIS CAMPAIGN has not been kind to G-d. Joe Lieberman continues to give Jews, or at least Orthodox Jews, a bad name. Bill Clinton, the sorcerer in chief, and his apprentice Al Gore have brought more shame to the Baptist persuasion than any deep-water believer since Lizzie Borden, and all the returns aren't even in yet.

Al's contempt for Buddhists, using their temples as places to scarf up loose C-notes from unsuspecting nuns, is well known, but Democratic contempt for religious faith isn't restricted to the exotic minority denominations.

Worst of all, perhaps, the Democrats, who long ago wrote off white evangelical Christians as beyond hope and grace, treat black congregations as both convenient and quaint, something out of Mississippi Delta blackface minstrelsy (" . . . it's Silas Green from New Orleeens . . . "). Just give Ol' Black Joe a pat on his old white head and send him out to vote early and often.

The double standard Democrats use to judge the religious faith of others is well known, of course, but The Washington Post's celebrated put-down of white evangelical Christians ("poor, uneducated and easy to command") is invoked as well by liberal Democratic politicians trolling for votes among black Christians.

The president's performance at black churches over the weekend was typically shameless. Bill Clinton wouldn't dream of turning a Sunday morning worship service into a vulgar political rally at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock (or at Hillary's fashionable Foundry Methodist Church in Washington), and if he did he would risk not being welcomed back. Neither would Al, who first got religion at a little Baptist chapel in Tennessee and studied theology at Vanderbilt's stiff and proper divinity school. In their own churches they reserve the Lord's house for the celebration of faith, not a pep rally for sordid candidates to grub for votes and money.

The photographs of the president's pious pose, his hands folded as if in prayer while lifting his eyes heavenward (or at least ceilingward), was enough to make Al ask, as he tells us he often does, "what would Jesus do?" (Weep, probably.) The juxtaposition of the photograph of presidential "piety" to the photograph of the president on the cover of Esquire magazine —Monica's view of the president —said everything about Bill Clinton and what he thinks of the office and what he thinks of the people who honored him with it twice. In your face, America.

There's no mystery about why Al and Tipper have embarked, at the beginning of the last week of the campaign, on their Magical Mystery Kissing, Caressing, Cuddling and Snuggling Tour of the Heartland. An open-mouth kiss in East Lansing, a big wet one in Muskegon, a hug and a hickey in Fond du Lac — by the time they get to Portland this morning wary staffers will be trying to find screens to throw around them if the passion slips beyond kissing toward bundling and worse (or better). You could never catch Bill behaving with Hillary like this, and Al wants to make sure America gets it.

But the Jimmy Swaggart Chair in Exploitative Theology goes this year to Joe Lieberman. Just when everyone from the Anti-Defamation League to the Lost Creek Association of Faith Healers and Snake Handlers was getting over the retching and gagging at Joe's performance on the stump following the Democratic National Convention, with his clumsy imitation of Elmer Gantry's invitation for sinners to hit the sawdust trail, Joe shows up at Notre Dame to preach a sermon about the need to tolerate religious folk.

Joe's message was a good one, and a needed one: "We have practically banished religious values and religious institutions from the public square and constructed a 'discomfort zone' for even discussing our faith in public settings, ironically making religion one of the few remaining socially acceptable targets of intolerance."

True enough, but no one is willing now to hear Joe say any of these things, so craven has he become to pander to the unholy needs of the patron who put him on the ticket. Even The Washington Post throws up: " . . . the Joe Lieberman introduced to the American people in Tennessee is not the Democratic vice presidential candidate now on the campaign trail. Sen. Lieberman's earlier champions have to swallow deeply as they watched him waffle on tort reform, affirmative action, school vouchers, Hollywood and Social Security privatization — issues on which he had shown a refreshing willingness to stand up for what he believes."

When he was questioned closely by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," Joe denied everything, showing that he learned from the two Sunday-school boys in the White House: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes and ears?"

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice
10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell
10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights
10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools
10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief
10/06/00: AlGore's black problem
10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote
10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio
09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp
09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes
09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply
09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'
09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye
09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset
09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap
08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal
08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost
08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash
08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme
08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser
08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy
07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers
07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself
07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?
07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?
07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit
07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink
07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season
07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results
07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate
06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!
06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve
06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman
06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat
06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation
06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'
06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch
06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak
05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper
05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks
05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes
05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example
05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans
05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales
05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man
05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat
05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary
04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood
04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks
04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go
04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno
04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)
04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts
03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table
03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day
03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult
03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology
03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain
03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden